The Goodbye Week

When I was graduating from high school one of my closest friends, Stori Stockwell’s mother gave me a beautiful engraved silver frame with a perpetual calendar. It was such a lovely gift and I was so overwhelmed that she had thought of me at graduation. Since we went to boarding school We did not see parents everyday, but I did go to visit the Stockwells on vacations. Stori’s Mom, Deicy, was one of the Moms I really liked to spend time with. I don’t think I can remember many gifts that people have given me, but that one has always stuck with me. To this day when I look at it I still think of Deicy Stockwell with such fond memories.
Since Carter is graduating on Friday I started to get a little sad about not getting to see so many of her friends when they are all off at college. Empty nest is not just the loss of your little chick, but of all the birds who have been together for all these years.
I wanted to get a present for some of the girls I felt close to and I wanted it to be personal. My hope is that in years to come when they look at it they will know how much they are loved by all the Lange’s and that they always have a home here.
I searched and searched and eventually found a woman, Michele Chisholm, who made beautiful appliqué pillows. I contacted her at her website and asked if she could make these pillows in time for graduation. She promised me they would make it. I waited weeks and worried, what if they did not turn out the way I envisioned them? They arrived yesterday and as I opened the packages I burst into tears. They were beautiful and just what I wanted to give.
I spent the afternoon inserting the pillows in the covers, and wrapping each one in tissue of each girl’s college, putting them in a box and wrapping them in DA colors paper and ribbon and writing. A letter to each of the girls. The outside of the package was their old life and the inside their new one they are walking into.
I was so excited I gave Carter hers first. She loved and thought it was the perfect gift for her friends. Today a few of the girls came over and I gave them their presents. Libby was fastest at unwrapping and declared, “These are my colors, how did you know?” Of course I didn’t know, but that was just a good bet on my part. A few tears were shed. It is the last week. The start of the goodbyes. It is supposed to be a happy time, but as I recall from my graduation I cried through the whole thing. They are ready to go, but not leave each other.

Being Six Is Exhausting

Happy birthday to our most beloved Shay Shay who turns six years old today. Carter took her to Pet Smart to get a party hat and some birthday presents. Turns out they don’t have party hats for dogs. This seems shocking since pets are the biggest thing money gets spent on these days.
Carter says it was for the best because Shay would hate a cone hat with an elastic string. Of course she would, we all hate those hats, but nothing says, “It’s my birthday” more than a little humiliation.
It is hard to remember our life without Shay. Carter had wanted a dog for the longest time, but Russ’ allergies prevented us from getting one. I used to say to Carter, “It is more important that Daddy can breath.” She didn’t always see it that way.
One day we were at our friends the Pottengers for dinner and Russ spent the entire evening snuggled up with their labradoddle Brady without any Clairitan and without any trouble. That was the answer. I contacted their breeder and found out he was having a litter soon and I could be interviewed. The price was outrageous, but the interview was even harder. I think getting a security clearance is easier.

Thankfully we passed the requirements for being parents of a precious labradoddle. My father had given me a very nice check for my birthday so I spent half of it on Shay Shay. It went against every grain in my body to pay for a dog and not rescue one from the shelter, but it was the only way I could be half certain that I was not killing my husband. Turns out Shay loves him best so it is a good thing she is so undog like.
With Carter leaving for camp and college Shay is going to be even more spoiled than ever. I can only imagine her wanting to take over Carter’s space so she can have her dog friends over and not have the prying ears and eyes of her parents when she is with her teenage gang. Then again she likes Carter’s cave like rooms because she can sleep the day away without guilt because she has no idea if the sun is up or the sun is down.
Happy birthday to our second baby. You make our family complete. Since it is yur birthday you can sleep 21 hours instead of 20.

Sending Hugs to Hannah and Jean

Some days in life stand out, but most are just a blur. The ones that are memorable are not always big days in our lives, but for some reason you can relive little vignettes of an ordinary day. One of those days for me was about her forth week of Durham Academy, when Carter was in Pre-k. I was waiting in the great room of the pre-school to pick Carter up. I sat on the low bench by the window, still a stranger to many of the other parents in the class.  
Carter and this tiny girl with dark brown hair and big brown eyes came out of class hand in hand and announced they wanted to have a play date. This was the first friend Carter had made who I did not know. I looked at this little girl and said, “Hi” and asked her name. She told me it was Campbell. “Well, Campbell can you show me who your mother is.” That is when I first met Hannah Hannan. We planned a play date and that was the beginning of two beautiful friendships. One for Carter and Campbell and another for me and Hannah.
Having your daughter chose a friend who you like as well as like her parents is a bonus. We became friends who shared holidays, vacations, countless sleepovers, celebrations and sadnesses. I got to know and love Hannah’s mother Jean Saunders, otherwise known as Boogey, and father Dan and even Hannah’s Grandmother from their countless visits from Michigan to Hannah and her family. Russ, Carter and I got to go to visit Hannah’s family in Michigan one summer. Boogey is always the most welcoming and loving grandmother and Dan was quick witted.
Dan got sick this year, although he was still relatively young. At first they thought he wouldn’t make it to Christmas and he did. Then the goal was set for him to be able to live for Campbell’s graduation with Carter, a week from today. Sadly, Dan passed away this morning, with Hannah and Jean there. My heart is breaking that he did not make it to graduation. I wish I were in Michigan right now to give those Saunders girls big hugs and be cooking some chicken as a break from the hot dish that is sure to be arriving at their door.
Dan was a kind and thoughtful guy, but also pragmatic. It does not surprise me that if he felt like he was going to be a burden he just departed with enough time for the family to be able to say good bye and get to Campbell’s graduation without having to worry about him. Doesn’t make it any easier, saying goodbye to a beloved. I can say he was a wonderful father because he produced one of the best people I know, Hannah Saunders Hannan.  

Thanks to Carter the Elder

My Carter had senior project this week. It is a chance for the seniors to try their hand at something they may be interested in for their future. Carter wanted to shadow an OB/GYN. I was not sure how that worked but it was not my place to figure it out.
My Carter asked Dr. Carter Gray, the coolest female OB/GYN around if she would be willing to take her on for the week. Dr. Gray, renamed herself, Carter the Elder and generously allowed Carter Lange the opportunity to spend her days with her in her office. Dr. Gray explained that thanks to HIPPA Carter could not go with her to the hospital, but that she would still learn a lot doing patient visits. Not getting to deliver babies in no way deterred Carter Lange from doing this project.
Carter the younger had an exciting week since most of the patients allowed her to be in the room for their exams. She got to watch sonograms, biopsies, and all things involving pregnant women. Carter the younger says it was the best form of birth control ever.
She came home everyday excited to share all that she learned and talk about what a fabulous Doctor Carter the elder is. I am so thankful for Carter the elder’s generosity with her time, her knowledge and passion for her job.  
Before my Carter started I thought there could be two outcomes from this projects, one she would decide she was definitely not interested in becoming an OB/GYN or two she would say it is still on her list. The second choice is what happened, but even better Dr. Gray exposed to many other careers in medicine Carter the younger had no idea ever existed.
I am proud that Carter Lange chose to do a meaningful senior project and use this time to explore future possibilities. The world is a big place and only through exposure do we ever know what options there are for us. One small piece to life’s puzzle.

I’m an Ed Head

Today is my Dad, Ed Carter’s birthday! It is hard to believe that he is 79 years young today. I feel like he was just fifty. I mention that because I think it was his fiftieth birthday when his friends threw him a surprise birthday party. The theme was “I’m and Ed Head” and we all wore hats with his picture and that saying on them.
I know that I am very lucky to have both my parents. They are an incredibly young pair of just barley under octogenarians who live on their own, drive, take care of huge farm and can still hear well enough to talk on the phone. The reason I feel so lucky is that for as long as I can remember my Dad would start many a talk with me with the phrase,”I need to tell you this before I die.” He would then go on to tell me something incredibly mundane like, “make sure you change the oil in you car so you don’t burn up the engine.”
For most of my childhood and well into my twenties I thought my father was living on borrowed time since he always used that “before I die” phrase. As I aged I began to realize it was just hyperbole and he was sticking around, which made me very relieved.
Thanks to his sage wisdom, which I committed to memory out of fear of not having him around to ask questions of, I was able to take care of myself, and my car at a young age. Something’s he told me were about careers I should not chose, or how to avoid speeding tickets or the big rule, “never run one of your cars into another one of your cars because you have no one else to blame.”  
Other things I learned from him were not direct advice, but just from watching. One big one was I should always do my expense reports in a timely fashion. When I was little the worst chore was to sort receipts so my father could do his expense account. He had multiple brown paper grocery sacks filled with receipts. He would write the names of each month on a separate piece of paper towel, probably because it was the only paper he could find. Then anyone in the house who was old enough to read would take a handful of papers from the bag and try and find a date on it and then put it on the paper towel of the corresponding month. My mother would live in horror that those bags might get thrown way because they were like bags of paper waiting to be turned into gold.  
When I was young my Dad knew everything. I have noticed in subsequent years he asks me more questions about things than tells me stuff. Like today he asked me how to make Ranch dressing. Not something that I must tell him before I die. Now Carter is the one who knows things and he asks her.  
I try me not scare Carter by telling her, “I need to tell you this before I die,” but I do tell her things that I want her to know in case I am not around. Like today, I introduced her to our financial advisor, just so she’ll know who to talk to if she needs him. I guess I am an Ed Head by birth. I hope that I am like my Dad and stick around for a long time. It is really wonderful to go through life with your parents and their real time advice. Happy Birthday Dad, I love you and all your wisdom.

Cold Asparagus Soup

It’s getting to be cold soup season. Last night I looked in the fridge and announced I had asparagus. Carter requested cold soup, but the. Went out to dinner with her friend Liza. I’m glad I didn’t rush to make it then. Tonight is a rare night when both Russ and Carter are going to be here for dinner so I whipped this up.
1 large sweet onion chopped

2 carrots chopped

1 celery rib chopped

Sprinkle of red pepper flakes

1 lb of asparagus- Woody ends removed, cut in thirds

1 T. Knorr chicken soup powder or chicken broth

1/4 cup half and half

1 T. Lime juice

Dash of nutmeg
In a soup pot sprayed with Pam put the onions, carrots and celery and cook on medium for four- five minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and cook one more minute. Add 1 cup of water and knorr powder or 1 cup of chicken or vegetable broth and bring to a boil. As bottom 2/3’s of asparagus and cook for one minute. Add the remaining asparagus and cook for three more minutes. Turn off the pot, add nutmeg and salt and pepper.
Blend the contents of the pot either with a hand blender or in a regular blender. Add the half and half after it is mostly puréed. Add the lime juice and chill.

Shrimp and Red Quinoa Salad

Carter was off doing her senior projects and Russ was at work so I am just feeding myself for both lunch and dinner. Wanting to use some beautiful shrimp I cooked the other day I decided to make this recipe up. It was so good for lunch that I also ate it for dinner.
2/3 cup cooked Reed Quinoa

12 cooked shrimp, peeled and cut in thirds 

20 cherry tomatoes halved

2/3 cup chopped English cucumbers 

2 T. minced shallots

1/2 cubed avocado

2 T. Lime juice

1t. Olive oil
Mix together. Serve over arugula lightly dressed with balsamic vinegar and goat cheese on top.
Refreshing and healthy!